Posts Tagged: Rob Wilson
Not only did the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors approve a $10,000 allocation to the local 4-H program, commissioners spoke warmly about the youth development program, reported Bill Choy in the Mt. Shasta News.
“Without 4-H I don't think my kids would have been as successful,” said commissioner Ray Haupt. He said he has seen the positive benefits of 4-H for kids and teens countless times and added that the program provides invaluable leadership skills to the youth in the community.
UC Cooperative Extension advisor Rob Wilson addressed the board to request the funding support. He said state funds have not kept up with the cost of running the program.
"We're having more difficulty covering that funding gap," Wilson said.
He added that the program is always looking for help and donations and encouraged the community to support them. For more information go to http://cesiskiyou.ucanr.edu/4-H_Program/.
Read more about the Siskiyou Pet Pals 4-H program.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources marked the opening of a new conference and laboratory building at its Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake July 26, bringing to the region a state-of-the-art facility for business meetings, job fairs, trainings, conferences and community events.
"The facility is the first in the Tulelake area to offer modern audio-visual infrastructure and high-speed internet connectivity capable of supporting remote presentations to stay in touch with groups from around the world," said Rob Wilson, IREC director. "We hope this facility will greatly increase the visibility and accessibility of local events and help draw more regional attention to the area."
UC ANR funded construction of the $2 million building. IREC is working with the community to complete the project with furnishings and equipment.
The conference room is named after John Staunton, a local farmer and supporter of IREC whose family donated $25,000 in his memory to the project. Another conference room bears the name of Winema Elevators/Western Milling for its gift of $15,000. Donations to the facility have also been made by Sensient Natural Ingredients, Macy's Flying Service and Basin Fertilizer
The conference building opening followed the 2018 IREC field day, an annual event that showcases the research underway at the 140-acre facility.
Research presentations included updates about work on biological control of cereal leaf beetle, influence of fall harvest management of irrigated grass hays, onion white rot, managing alfalfa weevil and clover root cucurlio, pulse crop options for the Klamath Basin, cover crops and amendments, cutting schedule effects on low lignin alfalfa and germplasm evaluation of alfalfa and tall fescue.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources vice president Glenda Humiston welcomed a delegation of Chinese agricultural scientists to UC ANR's Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake in June, reported Danielle Jester in the Siskiyou Daily News.
"They're trying to improve their agriculture," Humiston said. "We need all farmers and ag working together, and we need a good working relationship with China – there's a big market there.”
During her opening remarks, Humiston said Chinese farmers faced many of the same issues as those in the U.S.
"They are responding to global climate change, drought and pests while trying to improve food security and water use efficiency," Humiston said. "They see UC Cooperative Extension as an effective research model; we hope that scientific collaborations will accelerate solutions and help maintain relations for California agriculture with China."
The group toured the Intermountain Research and Extension Center, the northernmost of UC ANR's nine research and extension centers.The 140-acre facility is four miles south of the Oregon border. Research at the center is focused on irrigated field and vegetable crops, weed, insect and disease management, water conservation and plant fertility.
During the tour of the station, one of the Chinese scientists asked what factors the researchers look at to determine the health of the soil. In response, center director Rob Wilson listed the soil's nutrients, its bulk density, pH, organic matter content, carbon to nitrogen ratios, existence of microbes, and existence of disease in the soil, Jester reported.
The annual field day at the UC Intermountain Research and Extension Center held last week provided an opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of UC Cooperative Extension with leaders of the organization, reported Todd Fitchette in Western Farm Press.
The research activities at the Intermountain center, situated near the California-Oregon border in Tulelake, focus on peppermint, horseradish, small grains, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa and onions. At the field day, UCCE researchers discussed the progress of alfalfa production in the Klamath Basin, suppressing white rot disease in processing onions, maximizing profitability of wheat, pest management in peppermint and other topics.
The Intermountain Research and Extension Center is one of nine centers under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). The 140-acre facility provides UCCE advisors and specialists the space and support needed to conduct agricultural research in a high mountain interior valley climate zone.
Many people enjoy the cool and refreshing peppermint flavor without knowing there are ingenious farmers and agricultural researchers working year-round to produce the naturally spicy bite of this holiday icon. Candy canes get their distinctive taste from the oil secreted under the leaves of Mentha × piperita, the bright green herbaceous perennial herb known as peppermint.
Peppermint, a cross between spearmint and wintermint, is America’s most popular mint flavor. Peppermint oil is an important ingredient not just in candy; it is used in toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, pharmaceuticals and beauty products.
The majority of U.S. peppermint is cultivated in the Pacific Northwest, where summer days are warm and long and nights are cool, minimizing the presence of a chemical that imparts a bitter taste in the mint oil. In far northern California – near the University of California’s Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Siskiyou County, plus in Lassen County and in the Fall River Valley of Shasta County – the soil and climate are equally hospitable to mint production.
UC researchers have experimented with mint for more than 50 years, said Rob Wilson, UC Cooperative Extension advisor and director of the Intermountain REC. But it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that interest in commercially producing California peppermint took off. The 2010 peppermint acreage in northeast California was more than 3,500 acres and valued at about $7 million.
“Farmers are excited to have a new cropping choice like mint,” Wilson said, “especially given the fact that we have fewer choices than most areas of California because of our short growing season. Mint has given our farmers a new crop to add to their rotations.”
California peppermint oil producers have stiff competition. A significant quantity of peppermint oil is now produced in China and India. But U.S. growers see the opportunity to set their product apart by applying their agricultural skill to producing exceptionally high quality oil. To do so, the growers rely on research to inform their decisions on irrigation, fertilization and pest control. Extensive work on ideal mint management has been conducted in the Pacific Northwest, but there is a need for additional research to study mint production and economic viability under California conditions.
Peppermint is grown in a fashion similar to other field crops common in the intermountain region and can be harvested with some of the same equipment used for alfalfa and forages, Wilson said. Farmers plant certified verticillium wilt-free rootstock in the fall, and the peppermint stand produces a crop for about five years.
When mint has reached maturity, farmers swath the field like alfalfa and leave the plants to dry a few days before raking them into windrows. Using a forage harvester, the peppermint crop is chopped into small pieces and blown into tubs. At the distillery, steam is forced through the tubs to extract the oil.
“In harvest season, there’s a fragrant aroma of peppermint in the air,” Wilson said. “Even driving by a still along the highway, you immediately notice the smell.”
Peppermint begins bearing a crop the first year after the fall planting, producing 40 to 90 pounds of mint oil per acre. In subsequent years, the crop produces 60 to 120 pounds of oil per acre.
Wilson and Dan Marcum, UCCE advisor in Shasta and Lassen counties, developed a cost study for establishing and producing peppermint oil in the intermountain region. The UC study notes the importance of determining a market channel for the oil before the mint is planted. Annual contracts for the oils are generally negotiated in the winter for the following season at a fixed number of pounds at a set price. It is risky to grow the crop without a prearranged contract because on the spot market growers are competing with imported mint oil, which can be produced in areas where lower wages and limited regulations cut the production cost.
A major risk associated with peppermint farming, the study reported, is producing oil of poor quality, for which there is little or no demand. For example, weeds harvested with the mint lower the quality of oil. Pigweed and other broadleaf weeds contaminate the peppermint oil with a weedy flavor note. Plant stress caused by inadequate water or nitrogen or by insect damage can also reduce oil quality.
IREC has more than five acres of peppermint and a small peppermint still for studying production and evaluating the quality of oil. Wilson, along Intermountain REC superintendent Don Kirby, is using this acreage to compare irrigation, fertilization and harvest management strategies in order to maximize peppermint oil yield and oil quality under local soil and climatic conditions.
The IREC peppermint acreage is also used to study insect management. Among the pests that can reduce peppermint oil quality are spider mites and a recently introduced insect pest, mint root borer. These pests prompt significant pesticide use. Given the highly sensitive watersheds and environment of the intermountain area, wide usage of pesticides is considered problematic. Propargite and chlorpyrifos, the most commonly used pesticides for spider mite and mint root borer control, are under regulatory scrutiny.
In 2010, with funding from a California Department of Food and Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant, Larry Godfrey, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis, and Kris Tollerup, UC Davis post doctoral researcher, along with Marcum and Wilson, began investigating mint yield and quality response to spider mite infestation, spider mite management methods in mint, and reduced-risk insecticides for mint root borer management. In addition, a study is under way to determine if sex pheromone mating disruption is a plausible tactic against mint root borer, and whether adjusting the timing of the insecticide improve mint root borer control. These research projects will continue in 2013.
In the two-minute video below, Wilson explains how UC researchers use a mini peppermint oil still.